This week in Heroes and Villains our selection of new Marvel Comics includes two superhero teams, one elder and one younger, a major villain of a completely different universe, Star Wars, and the best and most fun new super-heroine of the year so far. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Avengers #4, Champions #5, Darth Maul #1, and The Unstoppable Wasp #2!
For the first three issues of this newest series to be titled Avengers, the team has been at war with Kang the Conqueror, or more distinctly, a cadre of time-warped Kangs, seeking revenge on the Vision for stealing Kang from the time stream as a baby. This plot is a leftover from the last series, and resulted in Kang doing much the same to the Avengers – preventing their existence by killing them as infants. The last issue ended with the Avengers triumphant, and baby Kang rightfully returned to the time stream, but with our heroes with a plan to end the threat of Kang once and for all.
Writer Mark Waid has performed miracles before, but getting me to like this team of Avengers/non-Avengers has got to be near the top of the list. I had my doubts before, but Waid convinced me. Now in issue #4, he gives me something I’d thought I’d never see – an origin story for the villain Kang, self-narrated that gives us new information, a motivation, and yet still leaves the character’s vexing true identity still a secret.
I have struggled with Mike del Mundo’s painted art in past issues, but here, in the surreal surroundings of the time stream and insane rantings of Kang it fits well. The Avengers only appear in cameo, leaving the stage free for Kang to star. And I loved the homage to Legion foe the Time Trapper by having Kang’s base of operations at the end of time. We’ll still have to wait until next issue for the Avengers’ plan, but this issue is thumbs up recommended.
This comic, spotlighting the younger heroes who bailed on the Avengers during Civil War II, started off well, and I really kinda dug them despite reservations. Again, it is Mark Waid, also the writer here, who turned me around. Champions #5 has the team in Daly County seeking to right injustices, specifically hate crimes, when Gwenpool drops into their midst.
Thankfully, despite the name, Gwenpool has nothing to do with Gwen Stacy nor Deadpool, but I really did dislike having to go to Wikipedia to learn about a character. Her wild card presence however is a light in the darkness and a wall to bounce ideas off of when the Champions try to counter-balance a world where even super-powers can’t stop hate crimes. While still being a fun read, the issue did cross that line for me, reminding me of the news, and Trump. As I’ve said before, I prefer my comics to be escapism, but I am glad Waid and the Champions are making this stand.
Next we move to the Star Wars universe, for the first issue of Darth Maul. I liked the old Star Wars comics from Marvel. Back in the day (and by that I mean between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back) there was no CGI or re-mastered editions, so the comics gave creators a chance to give us all that the cutting edge special effects of the time could not. The comics opened our imaginations further. Remember the rabbit Jedi? Yeah, I do. They were perfect, but they rocked.
Marvel’s done a great job with them since reacquiring the rights to the characters and the mythos, Princess Leia stands out as one of the best for me. Now we have something a little different, a villain, from the first trilogy. Darth Maul gives us what I talked about above and more. We see inside Maul, and see what makes him tick, what he feels, what he wants. This is a good one. All this plus a back-up droid story by Chris Eliopoulos, recommended.
The Unstoppable Wasp
I loved the character when I first saw her under the pen of, there’s that name again, Mark Waid, and then last month in the first issue of The Unstoppable Wasp by Jeremy Whitley and Elsa Charretier, I completely fell in love with this new heroine. It was really the most fun, most uplifting comic I had read in quite some time. And I was proud it was written by someone I kinda knew, friend of The GAR! Podcast, Jeremy Whitley. Most importantly, for the first time in a long time, I couldn’t wait to read the next issue. Yeah, remember when comics made you feel that?
The new Wasp is Nadia Pym, and she’s looking for other young female scientists to recruit for her new lab. Jarvis, the Avengers’ butler comes by to take her to see her immigration lawyer, but Nadia is single-minded. Jarvis becomes her companion for the day in recruitment. Their interaction is wonderful, and yes, I was smiling the whole time I read it. And I love Nadia’s science facts, granted, they are a spin on the old Silver Age Flash Facts, but I love them. This really is the best comic.
The first recruits are Taina and Alexis Miranda, and like Nadia, it’s love at first sight. Jeremy and Elsa are now playing in the Marvel Universe, and they are building fast. Every new character, and even the ones we already know, is presented as folks you’d want to know. Nadia herself is contagious. Later she tries to recruit Moon Girl and they fight a giant rat. Still fun, still smiling. This is a must buy.